Singapore Firm Eyes Profit in Cheap Toilet Market

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

SINGAPORE (AP) – Christopher Ng has a dream: Help alleviate a major global health problem by bringing toilets to the world’s poor — at a tidy profit.

Ng, managing director at Singapore-based Rigel Technology, hopes to sell his state-of-the-art portable, fertilizer-making, toilets for as low as $30 beginning next year, tapping into a multibillion dollar market for proper sanitation in developing countries.

It is among the exhibits at the annual World Toilet Summit in Singapore, which brings together industry players to generate awareness of the world’s sanitation problems.

Experts estimate about 2.5 billion people lack functioning, hygienic toilets and instead excrete in the open, a habit that can contaminate water supplies and spread diseases such as E. coli bacteria and other viruses.

Ng said his company’s toilets separate liquid and solid waste, a feature that should reduce unpleasant smells and create fertilizer.

“A farmer could sell this recycled fertilizer,” Ng said while pulling out a compartment on the bottom of a prototype. “It’s good to sell something that’s useful and make a minimum profit.”

Jack Sim, who founded in 2001 the nonprofit World Toilet Organization, one of the organizers of the three-day conference, estimated the market for sanitation in developing countries is worth $1 trillion.

Source: Associated Press (link opens in a new window)